BYU’s rough night at AT&T Park a microcosm of the challenges facing the school as a big-time independent

BYU-UW

By Morris Phillips

A step slow, a play short: it was a pattern that played out to BYU’s detriment throughout the Fight Hunger Bowl Friday night.   While the Cougars acquitted themselves well, riding the spirit and running of quarterback Taysom Hill, when it came time to make a critical play, the Cougars didn’t while Washington did.

In the first half alone, the Cougars amassed 297 yards in offense, but never led.  Four offensive trips inside the UW 30-yard line produced three field goals and one touchdown on the initial push.  In the second half, a big interception had BYU poised to get back in it, but an incomplete pass and a sack preceded Justin Sorenson’s 44-yard missed field goal.

ESPN commentator Dave Pasch called BYU’s offense in the first half that enjoyed huge advantage in plays and yardage “dominant.”  In truth, the Hill-led attack was relevant, but ultimately ineffective.

“That to me was two even matched teams,” an upbeat BYU coach Bronco Mendehall recounted.  “I thought we had time of possession.  I thought we had ball control, et cetera.  We weren’t able to put it into the end zone, maybe on a couple of occasions.”

“When we get down there, we have to execute at a really high level, and we didn’t do that.  We had a couple of penalties that really killed us.”

And special teams were clearly no help.  After the Cougars drove 88 yards in 12 plays—including a gutsy fourth down run and conversion out of punt formation at their own 20—to tie it, 7-7, Washington got a 100-yard kickoff return from ultra speedy John Ross that put BYU behind once again.  After the Cougars narrowed the gap to 14-13, Jessie Callier’s 47-yard kickoff return set up the Huskies for another touchdown.

The BYU offense that moved the ball so effectively in the first half, bogged down after halftime.  Hill’s favored slant route to receivers Cody Hoffman and Skyler Ridley was effectively taken away by the Huskies crowding the box.  While Hill continued to find running holes—he would amass a career-high 31 rush attempts—UW dared the athletic quarterback to throw, and more often than not, Hill couldn’t connect.

The Cougars offense that amassed all the yardage in the first half went without a major push into Washington territory after halftime.  Washington’s touchdown on the initial drive of the half effectively put the game away.

Even more humbling for BYU were the marquee individual matchups that left many of BYU stars humbled.  All-American linebacker Kyle Van Noy played well in his final game as a Cougar, but when UW back Bishop Sankey was in his sights at the 11-yard line in the second quarter, Van Noy was left grasping for air as Sankey sidestepped the Cougar and then raced into the end zone for a 21-13 Washington lead.

In the third quarter stand out linebacker Uani Unga was matched up with UW’s Austin Seferian-Jenkins near the goal line, but the massive 6’6”, 280-pound tight end had the clear size and reach advantage when quarterback Keith Price whizzed a pass to Seferian-Jenkins in the end zone that put UW up 28-16 and left Unga an arm’s length short.

Hoffman, an NFL prospect at wide receiver, made plays in the middle of field, hauling in 12 catches for 167 yards, but his turn as passer didn’t fare well.  Hoffman received a pitch and threw a short out to Hill, but Hoffman took a shot to the ribs as he threw and was limited for the entire second half.

In all, a tough night for the Cougars, but also a reminder of what challenges life as a big-time independent will entail.  BYU left the Mountain West conference after 2012 for greater television exposure and the opportunity to play a national schedule and better pursue an opportunity at an elusive national championship.

But while a hand-picked schedule may garner exposure, the Cougars will have to recruit the best players to compete at such a lofty level.  On Friday night, the best athletes on the field wore purple and gold. A humbling loss to a middle-of-the-pack Pac-12 team in Washington could not provide a better illustration of the Cougars’ conundrum: the Cougars need to win big to gain national acclaim, but those wins will clearly be more difficult to grasp outside the Mountain West and squarely on top of the national stage.

Morris Phillips on the NCAA: Former Raider Tuiasosopo to coach Hunger Bowl for Washington

by Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–The Kraft Hunger Bowl is back and kick off is scheduled for Sat December 28th at AT&T Park between BYU and Washington University. Friday night I was in downtown S.F. and ran into the BYU advance crew. The Cougars don’t arrive in the City until Sunday. The Cougars former head coach Lavelle Edwards was in town on Friday night.

There’s a lot of excitment downtown it’s BYU’s first appearance in the Kraft Bowl and it’s Washington’s also. It should be a great football game. BYU is having a great season. The Cougars lost games during the regular season to Wisconsin and Notre Dame. BYU is a good football team and they run the football.

Washington runs the football just as well with their running back Bishop Sankey and the Huskies are 8-12 for the regular season in the Pac 12. Then there was the coaching change for Washington as Steve Sarkisian who left for USC is replaced by Chris Peterson. Sarkisian will not be involved in this game.

Peterson left Boise State to coach the Huskies and with the Hunger Bowl in the last couple years there have been coaching changes for this game. It will not affect the product on the field it should be an exciting game. Former Raider quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo the Huskies interim coach knows the system going into this bowl game. It’s all hands on deck with Sarkisian gone and the team has to rally around the new coach for this game.

The players have to be more attentive and the assistants have to assume the responsibilty it’s not going to affect them on the field. They’ve got plenty of time to prepare and they might be able to do well without Sarkisian for this game. What happened two years ago with Illinois they came into the bowl to play UCLA with their new coach and last year a coaching change happened when Boston College came town and they also had a new coach.

That’s just the kind of timing they have in football and particuarily with this bowl game coaches are taking new jobs at this time of the year and obviously athletic directors are not interested in having somebody around whose accepted a new job who can not even coach the last few games. They get the guy out and he doesn’t coach the final bowl games and they just move on.

It shouldn’t effect Washington at all with this change and again Peterson will take over at the beginning of next season and coach the Huskies 2014 season. Peterson maybe attending this game as an observer. He might be there as a consultant but Peterson left Boise State and it’s great for Washington he was an excellent coach while he was with the Buffaloes and made a couple of BCS appearences.

Morris Phillips is filling in for Michelle Richardson this week for NCAA commentary

BYU outruns Stanford lose 112-103

 (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

by Jerry Feitelberg

The Stanford Cardinal met the Cougars of Brigham Young University Tuesday night at Maples Pavilion. The Cardinal the Bucknell Bisons last Friday night to start the season 1-0. BYU also got off to a good start defeating Weber State for their first win of the season. BYU is coached by Dave Rose.

Rose is in his ninth season and has an outstanding record of 209-66. BYU players to keep an eye on are Tyler Haws, Kyle Collinsworth and Matt Carlino. Haws scored 28 points and hauled down 13 rebounds in the game against Weber State. Colloinsworth had 11 points and 10 rebounds while Carlino notched 22 points in the win. This is BYU’s first visit to Stanford since 1969.

BYU outran the Stanford Cardinal by a score of 112-103. Reminded me of the Boston Celtics of the ’60s or the Los Angeles Lakers of the ’80s as both teams raced up and down the court. Stanford was

led by Chasson Randle and Dwight Powell. Randle knocked down thirty-three points while Powell added twenty-eight. The Cougars were led by Matt Carlino, who had twenty-six, Tyler Haws’ had thirty-one and had three other players in double digits.

The pace of the game was very uptempo from the start. The Cougars held a slim 15-13

lead with under five minutes played in the half. Matt Carlino had seven points for BYU and the Cardinal’s Chasson Randle also had seven. Both teams continued their fast and furious play but BYU took the lead at the 5 minute mark and the Cardinal could not catch up. BYU had a ten point led with 3:35 left as they went on a 7-0 run. Both teams roared up and down the court but BYU, behind a very large and loud contingent of supporters, finished the first half with an eight point lead 54-46. BYU was led by Kyle Collinsworth who had twelve points and four rebounds. Matt Carlino added seven more while Tyler Haws also added nine for the Cougars. Stanford was led by Chasson Randle and Dwight Powell. Randle had sixteen points and Powell chipped in with twelve.

Both teams played well in the second but BYU pulled away to build a seventeen point lead with 10:45

left in the game. The Cougars have played better defense, run the court faster and out-hustled the Stanford five so far in the second half and now lead 88-70 with 7:20 left in the game. The Cardinal

did not give up and they cut the deficit to ten points but there is just left 2:51 left in the game and it will take a miracle for Stanford to pull out the victory. BYU was just too tough and the Cardinal took it on the chin. Final score 112-103.

Stanford’s next game is Thursday night November 14th at 8pm at Maples Pavilion against Northwestern University.